Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Our Very Own Wilderness Circus

One of these days I will be back to my former blogging glory, posting everyday with little tid bits of interesting (and alot of not-so-interesting) stories of life in a small town, on the range, and on the run...BUT, until then, you will have to be satisfied with the main highlights and big events that seem to consume our existence. It has been crazy around here (this is really an understatement). We have been slaving away at preparations for the 2009 Elk Season! Big year for us. We will make absolutely NO $$$, in fact, we may be losing our asses, BUT we may be famous... which could lead to $$$ down the line. That's what we are hoping anyhow. Remember me telling you about the super amazing outdoor films that were going to be filmed at our camp for the Outdoor Channel? Well, they have arrived and it has come to fruition. As I speak 3 hunter/film makers with their own shows and 2 camera men are on horseback and about 2 hours from our camp.

So where do the latest tales begin? Well, Clark booked his SECOND ticket to Montana in one summer this year. He committed to coming and helping us set up camp. In year's past we have convinced the Blank's, the Cox's, the Rasp's and even strangers to help us do the heavy lifting and work. This year we had commitments from Clark (good strong help), Jim Bynum a.k.a. "Jim-Pa" now (ridiculously handy, a perfectionist, and never quits), mom a.k.a. "Nona" now (amazing help with anything that needs organization and baby tending), Joellyn a.k.a "Nana" (the hardest working little German you will ever meet). Matine and I were of course on the list of "help." She was of course going to the the cuteness factor and I was going to be her food source in between diaper changes, baby tending and doing what I could to help.

We had a crew SET and we were excited. Day before we are set to leave: Nana Jo's slipped discs in her back - waaayyyy to messed up to even try to ride and lift and beat herself up anymore. One man down. Morning we are leaving - 6am, my phone rings and it's Clark. He was supposed to be leaving at 6am from Tulsa, so I assumed the call was to tell me his flight was delayed and we didn't need to pick him up as early. Well, all I remember from the angry and VERY short converstation. "I missed my flight, my alarm didn't go off, I am not coming. No, I am NOT kidding. Flights are too expensive to get another one and there are no other flights leaving today. NO Brooke, I am NOT kidding." CLICK.

Well, man 2 down. So now we are left with Jim, Peter, Mom, me and Matine... Our labor pool picture has drastically changed. Long story short, angels from Heaven sent us Ron and Sherry White from Clyde Park, MT. They love to ride their horses and camp out. They met Peter in the parking lot at the trailhead and thought it would be SO much fun to come up and break their backs WORKING at our camp for 3 days. So, we had to the extra food, we packed in their things, they rode their own beautiful horses, a). they worked their ASSES off for 3 days. Seriously, we kept pinching ourselves... Are these people for real? They were creative at building jacks and tables and anything that needed fixing, they were strong, hearty, and full of energy and smiles. In short - they were angels.

Their energy and extra hands really paid off b/c I was sick going into camp, Peter contracted the world's worst flu while in camp (fever, shakes, trots to the camp John every 1/2 hour, general yuckiness). I got sick AGAIN the day we get out, Jim got the crud the day after that, and now mom has it. What? Don't worry - it's not the water or my cooking (we think).

Ron and Sherry, Willy and Snickers - the extra hands/cast members of the Willow Ranch Circus

AND, Sherry took many of these beautiful pictures of our week.

Somehow all our stuff gets on to the horses and all the way to our destination - a bit like carnies.

Line em' Up.

The team looks ready . . . Sorry Stumpy, you are NOT a Norwegian Fjord be we will let you come anyways... We need you (this statement pissed Stumpy off and he later took it out on Jim-Pa in the form of a bucking bronco rodeo on the trail).

Getting acquainted with all the smells, noises, and faces of the extended family.

Our Fearless Leader /Ring Leader /Outfitter Extraordinaire - "handsome Pete."

Mama bear wasn't about to strap herself of her 3.5 month baby to the back of even the tamest horse - so we chose to use our legs as transportation the 5.5 miles uphill to camp. Matine "The Princess" loved the view from her Chariot.

All the dogs were excellent help and do amazing tricks. Barking at any intruders (moose), making sure you made it safely to the bathroom, creek, or wherever you went, and of course were thoroughly entertaining in general. Little Annie Bynum will NEVER blend in the City again. She is now a wilderness pack dog (sorry mom and Jim). Annie even "got tired" of walking into camp and rode on the BACK of one of our horses the entire way up - no kidding. Now that is a circus trick if I have ever seen one!

Up, Up, UP go the tents. Each tent takes about 1/2 a day. You must find and cut the beams and center poles, get it tethered and straight. Straighten it again, and again and again. Then once the stoves and rain flies are on - 16 more adjustments need to be made (and that's if you tied your knots right the first time).

Ron, Sherry and Jim had a great idea to build some saddle racks for the riding and pack saddles in our Tack Tent. It turned out very nice.

How can you make this part of camp better? Not sure . . . I guess the views are better than at home?

Matine loved sitting on the saddles in the Tack Tent. This kid LOVED being up there... Dare we anticipate a rodeo gal? Mom and dad really hope not...

Once tents were set up, leveled out and looking good on the outside - everyone got to "pimping out the interior." Ron and Sherry had client tent #1 looking like a magazine photo!

"Where the heck is Clark? I just saw him. He always skips out on all the hard work!" - was the quote du jour. We really missed him. And will be sending him a new alarm clock soon.

Did we tell you that you are not getting paid for any of this Jim? What, you have NEVER cut wood with a cross cut saw before? No, we aren't done yet. We need a few more CORDS cut before camp starts - keep cutting!

Regardless of how hard you have to work in this business, you can't help but see the beauty in everything ALL around you . . .

It's Bullwinkle the Bull Moose
Each night and like clockwork for her naps, Matine was bundled and put into her little Kidco Peapod personal tent. Protected from bugs, licking dogs, and the occasional run-away horse in camp, she slept like a rock.

Yes, there is a baby bundled in there. . .

We had lots of good laughs, some OK food (I was cooking) and plenty of tired muscles.

So, on the way out the real rodeo begins: mom tried to show off by doing tricks on our Helga Horse. Reality was that her cinch was loose and the saddle just started spinning, dumping Kerri to the ground and the saddle under the horse's belly (who proceeded to buck like a rodeo bronc). Mom crawled and clung to a tree while we all tried to figure out how to calm the beast and rider.

Five minutes after all is well on Helga, Jim's Stumpy horse becomes a crazy man and starts bucking Jim - he stayed on for about 5 seconds before being ejected right onto his rump. Not sure Jim has a career in the rodeo circuit yet.

Again, "where is Clark?"

Pete cursed his pack string the entire way down, having to stop every few minutes to run into the woods to "do business" associated with this awful virus, Matine, 4 dogs and myself kept walking and plugging along down the trail, praying the entire way that the rest of the Zoo would make it to the trailers.

We were utterly exhausted, filthy, sore, sick, worn out, and ELATED that all is done in camp and that Willow Ranch is ready for it's first week of clients.

All Pete had left to do was take another 4 horses in with hay, I had to buy, pre-cook and pack food for 10 people, and Jim needed to REST so he would be as good of help in camp as he was during set up.

Josh Rasp arrived from Oklahoma with his truck and long hair - ready to be camp cook!

It will be quite a crew in this month.


Growing up Gwyneth said...

I may not be a CITY GIRL, but there is NO WAY I would survive in that element! Cant wait to visit you, but I will wait until camping season is OVER (camping season does end there doesnt it???) :-)
Love you, glad you are all safe! Kisses to "BABY MATINE HOWELL"

Michal said...

That truely was a circus! Where was Clark?

Jacqueline said...

I WANT A COAT!! How do I get one??? I will be great advertisement since I wear a coat 24/7!!

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